A Plague On All Your House Systems – Horary Astrology Made Simple

With a 12th house stellium in the sign, Capricorn Research needs no prompting to self isolate – that is the favoured method of existence anyway.

But this corona scare is very annoying. With no sport to speak of my favourite lucrative pastime of astro gambling has been snatched from my gnarly Capricorn fingers.

Having tried to get my fix through desperately looking for birth data for Japanese sumo wrestlers and Russian table tennis players, I have been forced to give up and accept this Saturnian state of affairs.

At times like this many astrologers might ask the question ” What would William Lilly have done ? ”

Lilly was quite possibly the greatest astrologer ever. He was so well known for the accuracy of his predictions that both the King Charles 1 and his opponent Oliver Cromwell consulted him about the timing and place of battles in the English Civil War.

He predicted the Great Fire of London of 1666 even down to the actual day ( September 3rd ), 15 years previously. In fact he was arrested a few weeks after the event because some people in authority assumed that he’d actually started the fire in order to prove his prediction right.

Of course the Great Fire followed the Great Plague of 1665.  The Plague was pretty much over by the Spring of 1666, but this fact hasn’t deterred many people from stating that the Fire brought it to an end.

This is the thing with history, it’s often tempting to rewrite it to make it sound more dramatic or romantic.

The Great Plague, just like the current one caused many people to flee London and William Lilly fled to Hersham, a nice little village in leafy Surrey. One Australian astrologer recently stated that Lilly used this time to write Christian Astrology, probably the greatest book ever written about the subject.

Which would have been even more prescient of the man, given that Christian Astrology was published in 1647, 18 years before the Plague broke out.

William Lilly was a son of Saturn and quite used to the setbacks and frustrations that the planet brings.



Lilly has a Capricorn Moon and the Sun in close opposition to Saturn.

The Plague and the Fire occurred when Saturn was moving through Capricorn and its presence on his natal Moon would have convinced him that staying in retreat would be the right thing to do. Frustrating but correct.

What he wouldn’t have known was that Uranus was at 19 Aquarius, in square to Lilly’s Sun / Saturn opposition. He wouldn’t have known this because Uranus was not discovered until a century later.

If he had known about Uranus he would have understood that it would have caused serious problems for him around the Fire and also caused him to retire from his London practice for good.

If Lilly had known about Neptune he might have been able to predict the Plague as well as the Fire.

In fact this can give us some insight into the present coronavirus situation.

There have only been three times since the Middle Ages that Saturn has been conjunct any of the three outer planets in the sign of Capricorn. And all three of them have been periods of massive change.

The last one was in 1989 when it was conjunct both Uranus and Neptune. The conjunction with Neptune was exact on the day of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The first of the three was when Saturn was conjunct Pluto at the end of 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the wall of the Wittenberg church, marking the beginning of Protestantism.

The other one was in 1666 when Saturn was conjunct Neptune coinciding with the end of the Plague and the Fire of London.

It seems very likely that the Plague started in December 1664, a time when the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune were in Capricorn.

Our own version began when the Sun, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto were in the same sign. As I write this at the height of the panic, both Mars and the Moon are in Capricorn too.

These two dates ( December 1664 and now ) are the only times Jupiter, Saturn and one of Uranus, Neptune or Pluto have been in Capricorn, certainly since the Middle Ages.

Another very interesting fact is that for the whole duration of the Plague Chiron ( always associated with health ) was in exact conjunction with Uranus in Aquarius.

So what did happen to William Lilly at this point, given that this Uranus / Chiron conjunction was ( unknown to him ) in square to his Sun / Saturn opposition ?

He had a complete change of life. He spent his remaining years out of the limelight as the premier London astrologer, in retirement in Hersham. He trained in medicine and spent his remaining years attending to the needs of the poorer people of the parish.

So very Uranus / Chiron.

Lilly was 63 at the time of the Great Plague. Capricorn Research is 65 for this current one. Should I follow the masters path and devote my life attending to the sick and needy ?

Nah, sod that for a game of soldiers. I will just hang on until the golf comes back.

But as a tribute to the man himself I will pick some very simple horaries to analyse in order to help teach the new generation this fascinating skill.

You see William Lilly was seldom called on to interpret someone’s natal chart, for the simple reason that back in the 17th century, very few people knew what day they were born, let alone what time.

So he used Horary.

The principle behind this is that a client comes to the astrologer with a question. Lilly would cast a chart for the moment this was asked and deduce the answer from that chart.

There were very strict rules which he followed to make his predictions.

So here’s one that a client asked this week.



My client had just come from an interview for a job. She felt that it had gone well, but had been out of the job market for a few years so was nervous about the outcome.

Experienced horary practitioners will already know the answer, but I will work through this chart systematically for other readers.

The first thing to check with any horary is something Lilly called the Considerations Before Judgement.

These indicated that it would be unsafe to make a prediction if

  1. The first 3 or last 3 degrees of a sign was rising
  2. Saturn was in the 7th house
  3. The Moon was Void Of Course ( with no other aspects to make before she left the sign she was in ).

None of these apply, although with 25.49 of Aries rising it could be said that the matter had already virtually been decided.

The querent ( my client ) is signified by the ruler of the Ascendant, which is Mars.

Mars is exalted in Capricorn ( a good sign ) showing my clients strength in regards to this question.

Mars is also about to apply to a conjunction with Jupiter ( which is a good thing in anyone’s book ).

This job would be a 10th house matter ( rather than a 6th house one ) because my client was hoping that it would start her on her chosen career path.

Saturn rules the 10th house, and it is dignified and closely conjunct the Midheaven.

Basically if the planet that rules the querent and the planet that rules the house of the thing asked about apply by any aspect ( but particularly by conjunction ), the thing desired will come to pass.

Mars is applying to a conjunction with Saturn which would indicate that she would definitely get the job.

The only problem is that this conjunction is not completed before both Mars and Saturn move into Aquarius, so technically this could be an impediment.

It might look as if she was going to get it, but it would not actually come to pass.

This potential problem however is offset by two things.

As Mars is in Saturn’s sign, there already exists a relationship between them.

Also the Moon ( always important in horary because it is the fastest mover of all the planets ) is in Capricorn and will make a conjunction with both Mars and Saturn.

As well as the querent’s ruler, if the Moon makes an aspect to the ruler of the house of the question, the thing enquired about will come to pass.

The Moon reaches a conjunction with Saturn two days later.

So the advice that I gave to my client was – ” Yes you will definitely get this job “. She said ” Are you sure  ? “. I replied ” Yes, its one of the clearest horary charts I’ve ever seen ”

The next day my client was invited in for a trial the following morning. This trial concluded as the Moon came exactly to Saturn. She was offered the job as the aspect perfected.

I suspect I came to the same conclusion as William Lilly would have done and probably just as quickly.

I like to think Lilly would have just said ” Yes ” followed by shouting out ” Next Querent ” to a waiting room just like Doc Martin’s.

We Capricorn Moons have a certain style.

Lilly published Christian Astrology nearly 400 hundred years ago, but it is still the finest and most useful book on Horary Astrology.

This simple fact is not enough for some practitioners.

These hipsters believe that older is better, so use house systems that were in vogue a couple of centuries ago.

Using the Whole House System is the astrological equivalent of cycling to a wifi cafe on a penny farthing and ostentatiously bashing out a reading on a typewriter.

The main reason this type of method was in vogue in those days was because methods of calculation of the Ascendant were far from certain and it was safer to draw each chart with it at the beginning of the sign.

But these folks would say that WSH works much better and it would do even in the case above.



This places the whole stellium, including the querent’s Mars, the Moon and Saturn in the 10th house of career. So obviously its more appropriate and the astrologer can confidently make his way home, taking care not to get his beard caught up in that front wheel.

However, there is a catch.

Well obviously there is one. Capricorn Research is hardly likely to set something up that proves his opponents right.

The WSH chart ignores the whole essential nature of the job in question.

My client was applying for a job that was linked to an adult education college. The job itself lasts for a year and is literally a hands on way of gaining an entry level qualification into the career area of her dreams.

So it is a job but it is essentially a 9th house one. Hence the stellium being in the 9th house of Placidus.

So in effect the hipster WSH merchants will be cycling off into the distance convinced that they got it right, when the rest of the astrological community are just laughing at them.

Lilly would have seen that straight away. He didn’t use WSH, not because he had not read up on the ancients who did, but because he was confident in his own methods of calculation to produce an accurate chart in all situations.

There are a number of rules on timing, a degree can be equivalent to an hour, a day, week, a month or a year depending on the signs and houses involved, but my policy is to use common sense.

Think of the nature of the question and work out which its most likely to be.

As this was an interview, my client was unlikely to get the job within a couple of hours. Also it was unlikely to take that many weeks or months to find out. So we plump for 1 degree equals 1 day.

Looking at the timing of the original chart. Mars for the querent would reach a conjunction with Jupiter ruler of the 9th in 2 degrees time. It would reach Saturn in 9 degrees.

She was offered the job 2 days after the question was asked and is due to start 9 days after it.

You see, astrology is simple. If you stick to the rules and use a bit of common sense it will always provide the answers.

Even in the middle of a Great Plague.



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